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A.C. No. 5914, March 11, 2015
COMPLAINANT: the complainants alleged that the respondents employed deceit to obtain favorable
judgments, specifically by failing to inform the trial court that there was already an out-of-court settlement
between them and maliciously manifesting that their counsel, Atty. Justo Paras (Atty. Paras) was suspended
from the practice of law.
The complainants asseverated that they are clients of Atty. Paras in two collection cases, particularly, Civil
Case No. 2000-319 and Civil Case No. 2000-321, which were filed against them by the respondents. In Civil
Case No. 2000-319, respondents sued the complainants to compel them to pay their indebtedness of
P18,000.00, which was evidenced by a promissory note. After they filed their answer to the complaint,
however, the respondents filed a motion to strike out the same and to declare them in default on the ground
that the said pleading was prepared by a lawyer suspended from the practice of law and lacked proper
verification. The motion was however denied.
On the other hand, in Civil Case No. 2000-321, the respondents sued the complainants to collect the amount
of P94,173.44. The answer filed by Atty. Paras was however stricken off the record for the reason that he
was suspended from the practice of law at the time of its filing.
Unable to find a lawyer to replace Atty. Paras, the complainants decided to seek an out-of-court settlement.
On May 23, 2001, Aida went to the respondents law office. She appealed for the respondents consideration
and asked that they be allowed to pay their obligations by way of installment. The parties agreed on the
terms of payment and, on that same day, Aida tendered her first payment of P20,000.00, which was received
and duly acknowledged by Francisco in a written document with the letterhead of Yap Law Office. When Aida
asked the respondents if they should still attend the pre-trial conference scheduled on May 28, 2001 and
June 18, 2001 in the civil cases filed against them, the latter told them they need not attend anymore as they
will be moving for the dismissal of the cases. Relying on the respondents assurance, the complainants did
not attend the scheduled hearings. Subsequently, they were surprised to receive copies of the decisions of
the trial court in the two civil cases filed by the respondents, declaring them in default for non-appearance in
the pre-trial conference and ordering them to pay the amount of their indebtedness and damages. The
decision however did not mention the out-of-court settlement between the parties. Nonetheless, the
complainants continued tendering installment payments to the respondents upon the latters assurance that
they will disregard the decision of the trial court since they already had an out-of-court settlement before the
rendition of said judgment. They were surprised to learn, however, that the respondents filed a motion for the
issuance of a writ of execution in Civil Case No. 2000-319 and were in fact issued said writ. 4 This prompted
them to seek legal advice to address their predicament. They went to Atty. Jose V. Carriaga who, after
learning of the factual milieu of their case, told them that they have a good ground to file a disbarment case
against the respondents. He, however, declined to handle the case himself as he disclosed that his wife is a
relative of the respondents. Instead, he referred the complainants to Atty. Paras, who had just resumed his
practice of law after his suspension.
As advised, the complainants went to Atty. Paras to engage his services as their counsel. Initially, Atty. Paras
refused to handle their case as he revealed that the personal animosity between him and the respondents
may invite unwelcome repercussions. Even then, the complainants insisted to retain his services as their
counsel. Thus, Atty. Paras proceeded to file a disbarment case against the respondents with the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
As foretold by Atty. Paras, the complainants experienced unpleasant backlash which were allegedly
instigated by the respondents who come from a very powerful and affluent clan. They received threats of
physical harm and Aidas continued employment as a public school teacher was put in jeopardy. Also,
suspicious-looking individuals were seen loitering around their house. When they refused to yield to the
respondents intimidation, the latter resorted to the filing of charges against them, to wit: (1) an administrative
case against Aida for failure to pay the same debts subject of this case; and (2) a criminal case for perjury
against the complainants. To alleviate their situation, they filed a Joint-Affidavit, 7 seeking the assistance of
this Court to warn the respondents and to stop them from employing deplorable acts upon them.

In their Comment on the Complaint and Counter-Petition for Disbarment dated March 14, 2003, the
respondents denied having resorted to deceitful means to obtain favorable judgments in Civil Case Nos.
2000-319 and 2000-321. They admitted that they agreed to an out-of-court settlement, through the
intercession of Rosa Yap Paras, estranged wife of Atty. Paras, but denied that the complainants ever
tendered any installment payment. They claimed that Atty. Paras merely employed cajolery in order to entice
the complainants to file the instant case to retaliate against them. They asseverated that Atty. Paras resented
the fact that the respondents served as counsel for his former wife, who previously filed the administrative
case for immorality, abandonment of family, and falsification and use of falsified documents which resulted to
his suspension.
RESPONDENT: On their counter-petition for disbarment, the respondents asserted that Atty. Paras clearly
defied the authority of this Court when he represented the complainants and filed an answer on their behalf
during the period of his suspension from the practice of law. They alleged that he appeared in several cases
and filed numerous pleadings despite his suspension.
After the parties submitted their respective position papers, the Investigating Commissioner of the IBPCommission on Bar Discipline issued a Report and Recommendation 10 dated June 23, 2005, which
pertinently states as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
There is substantial evidence that Respondent Francisco Yap ha[s] deliberately neglected, at the very least,
offered and/or pleaded inaccurate allegations/testimonies to purposely mislead or confuse the civil courts in
Dumaguete City. Francisco Yap failed to controvert the existence and the authenticity of the Acknowledgment
Receipt dated May 21, 2001 which bore his signature and written in a Yap Law Office letterhead. Such
documentary evidence supports the theory of the Complainants that there was indeed an out-of-court
settlement prior to the pre-trial hearings and that they were most likely assured that these cases would be
dismissed. Their absence during the pre-trial hearings evidently resulted to decisions adverse to them.
Moreover, the Motions for the Writ of Execution did not fail to mention the existence of partial payments and
the prior agreement which, if disclosed, would have led the court not to issue such writs. Since Respondent
Francisco Yaps signature appear in all the Acknowledgement Receipts and in all Motions filed in the civil
courts, he alone should be penalized. On the other hand, Respondent Whelma Siton Yap should not be
penalized in the absence of any evidence of her participation in such conduct. x x x.
All told, this Commissioner recommends that only Respondent Francisco Yap should be suspended from the
practice of law for six (6) months. At the same time, the Counter Petition for Disbarment filed by herein
Respondents against Atty. Justo Paras, which appears to be VERY meritorious, be given due course in
another proceeding with utmost dispatch.
Upon review of the report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, the IBP Board of
Governors issued Resolution No. XVII-2005-15912 dated December 17, 2005, disposing thus:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made
part of this Resolution as Annex A, and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
record and the applicable laws and rules, and for deliberately neglecting, offering inaccurate allegations to
purposely mislead or confuse the courts, Atty. Francisco D. Yap is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of
law for three (3) months. Atty. Whelma F. Siton-Yap is exonerated in the absence of any evidence of her
participation in such conduct; however Respondents are Warned for indirectly misleading the Commission.
On March 27, 2006, the respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration/Petition for Review.
On August 9, 2007, the complainants filed a Manifestation, 15 terminating the services of Atty. Paras and/or
Paras-Enojo and Associates as their counsel for the reason that they can no longer afford the services of a
private counsel.
Surprisingly, on the same day, the complainants executed a Judicial Affidavit, 16 disclaiming knowledge and
participation in the preparation of the complaint and the pleadings filed on their behalf by Atty. Paras in
connection with the disbarment case against the respondents. They claimed that they merely signed the
pleadings but the contents thereof were not explained to them in a dialect which they understood. They
likewise expressed lack of intention to file a disbarment case against the respondents and that, on the
contrary, they were very much willing to settle and pay their indebtedness to them. Further, they asserted
that it was not the respondents, but Atty. Paras who instructed them not to attend the pre-trial conference of
the cases which eventually resulted to a judgment by default against them. They claimed that Atty. Paras told

them that he will be the one to attend the pre-trial conference to settle matters with the respondents and the
court but he did not show up on the scheduled date. They also asseverated that most of the statements
contained in the complaint for disbarment were false and that they wished to withdraw the said complaint.
On May 14, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XIX-2011-172, 17 which reads:
RESOLVED to DENY Respondents Motion for Reconsideration there being no cogent reason to reverse the
findings of the Commission and it being a mere reiteration of the matters which had already been threshed
out and taken into consideration. Thus, Resolution No. XVII-2005-159 dated 17 December 2005 is hereby
On August 18, 2011, the respondents filed a motion for reconsideration, claiming that the admission of the
complainants in the Judicial Affidavit dated August 9, 2007 proved that the disbarment case filed against
them was just fabricated by Atty. Paras. They pointed out the complainants statement that they were just
made to sign the complaint for disbarment by Atty. Paras to retaliate against them for having filed a case
against him for falsification of documents which sent him to prison for some time.
On August 18, 2011, the complainants sent a letter 19 to the IBP, expressing disappointment over the fact that
the IBP Board of Governors did not dismiss the disbarment case against Francisco.
ISSUE: whether the statements of the complainants, specifically contesting the truthfulness of the allegations
hurled against the respondents in their own complaint for disbarment necessarily results to Francisco s
HELD: NO. The Code of Professional Responsibility was promulgated to guide the members of the bar by
informing them of the deportment expected of them in leading both their professional and private lives.
Primarily, it aims to protect the integrity and nobility of the legal profession, to breed honest and principled
lawyers and prune the association of the unworthy.
It is for the foregoing reason that the Court cannot simply yield to complainants change of heart by refuting
their own statements against the respondents and praying that the complaint for disbarment they filed be
dismissed. It bears emphasizing that any misconduct on the part of the lawyer not only hurts the client s
cause but is even more disparaging on the integrity of the legal profession itself. Thus, for tarnishing the
reputation of the profession, a lawyer may still be disciplined notwithstanding the complainant s pardon or
withdrawal from the case for as long as there is evidence to support any finding of culpability. A case for
suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or lack of interest of the complainants, if the
facts proven so warrant.23 It follows that the withdrawal of the complainant from the case, or even the filing
of an affidavit of desistance, does not conclude the administrative case against an erring lawyer.
This is so because the misconduct of a lawyer is deemed a violation of his oath to keep sacred the integrity
of the profession for which he must be disciplined. The power to discipline lawyers who are officers of the
court may not be cut short by compromise and withdrawal of the charges. This is as it should be, especially
when we consider that the law profession and its exercise is one impressed with public interest. Proceedings
to discipline erring members of the bar are not instituted to protect and promote the public good only but also
to maintain the dignity of the profession by the weeding out of those who have proven themselves unworthy
Therefore, in the instant case, the Court cannot just set aside the finding of culpability against the
respondents merely because the complainants have decided to forgive them or settle matters amicably after
the case was completely evaluated and reviewed by the IBP. The complainants forgiveness or even
withdrawal from the case does not ipso facto obliterate the misconduct committed by Francisco. To begin
with, it is already too late in the day for the complainants to withdraw the disbarment case considering that
they had already presented and supported their claims with convincing and credible evidence, and the IBP
has promulgated a resolution on the basis thereof.
The complainants belated claim that the respondents were faultless and that the allegations stated in the
disbarment complaint were just fabricated by their former counsel cannot stand against the clear and
preponderant evidence they earlier presented. It is inexplicable how the complainants could now claim that
the respondents were blameless when the records tell otherwise. That they were simply duped by Atty. Paras

into signing the numerous pleadings he filed on their behalf is hardly believable considering that Aida is welllettered, being a public school teacher. They also do not claim that they were prevented from reading the
contents of the pleadings or that their signatures were simply forged. At any rate, while it may be true that
Atty. Paras fabricated some of the facts stated in the disbarment complaint, these matters are trivial and do
not relate to the facts material to the charge of misconduct against Francisco. What clearly appears is that
the facts material to the violation committed by Francisco are well-established notwithstanding Atty. Paras
supposed fabrication of some insignificant particulars.
WHEREFORE, for deliberately misleading the Court, Atty. Francisco Dy Yap is hereby SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for a period of three (3) months effective upon receipt of this Resolution, with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with severely.